It wasn't until I had already started watching this movie that I realized I already knew the twist. Years ago, I had watched a TV show where they discussed like... 100 movies with twisted endings. This was on the list. So add another to the list for this month where I knew it going in. Between Jason Soto and I, we've often talked about French horror films these days and how messed up they are. Well, I wouldn't exactly say this is horror, but it is a thriller. And it's French. And despite the fact it was made in 1955, it's still messed up. Oh, how those French remain consistent.
The film is about Christina (Vera Clouzot), the wife of an abusive school headmaster named Michel (Paul Meurisse). Christina, however, teams up with Michel's mistress, a woman named Nicole (Simone Signoret), to kill him, but giving themselves a perfect alibi. And after they go through the entire process and wait for the body to be discovered "accidentally," they first discover that the body has gone missing. Now the women--particularly Christina--start going crazy, trying to figure out where the body went and what they should do next.
The first 30 minutes of this movie is horribly boring. I thought it dragged immensely, and I just waited and waited for it to go anywhere. I was really worried considering it was a 2 hour movie. Thankfully, it picks up pretty fast right around the 30 minute mark and the murder stuff starts. For the next hour and a half, it kept my attention (mostly due to the fact I was forced to pay attention to the subtitles). It did get a bit repetitive sometimes (I get it... she's paranoid). But there were some fun moments. Early on, when they're transporting the body, there's some suspense that they could be found out. Granted, I figured they wouldn't, but it was there. And then later, a detective joins the story, and I wish he would have been in the film more. I liked his character, and he's really only in it minimally.
There's not a lot I really have to say about the movie. The mood it sets is perfect. There are disturbing images (particularly anything with a bathtub), and there's a lot of shadow and stormy weather. I found it interesting that, while it shares a lot in common with even modern day murder thrillers, the story wasn't focused on the whodunit--or even the whydunit--but the will-they-get-away-with-it. And then the twist happens, and you realize it really was a whodunit and a whydunit all along. It's very clever like that.
Overall, it was an entertaining movie once it got going. If you like murder mysteries and thrillers--and/or french cinema--I'd say to check it out. I didn't love it by any means, but it was good. I actually really wish I hadn't had it spoiled for me. I honestly think I would have loved the movie had I not known and been surprised by the ending. Oh well.